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The Future of EdTech Industry in India- in conversation with Ayush Jaiswal

Ayush Jaiswal, the co-founder of Pesto Tech, shares his opinions about the ed-tech industry


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CoFoundersTown

3 years ago | 9 min read

Over the past few years, EdTech has extended its scope past school and college curriculums. According to a 2016 KPMG report, the EdTech industry in India was worth about $247million and could reach $1.96 billion by 2021.

We have with us Ayush Jaiswal, co-founder of a one-of-its-kind career accelerator platform Pesto Tech, who not only talks about Ed-tech industry but also shares his opinions about what our education system is lacking at the moment.

Check it out in his exclusive interview with CoFoundersTown!

Q. How much has the EdTech industry evolved in the last decade in India?

A decade ago, EdTech Industry did not even exist. Now, the Industry is engaging the latest technologies such as experiential learning tools, artificial learning and gamification of learning which are revolutionizing the preparation strategies of students currently and will continue to do so.

The landscape of the Indian education system is transforming by the series of development in new-age pedagogies and their popularity is expected to grow in coming years. The increased mobile penetration in the country was a major breakthrough for the development of the edtech industry in India.

The rise of digital learning, have begun the endless racing for the concept of blended learning. Students have started looking at outcomes since they do not want to study a program that will not yield anything conclusive.

Image source: India Today
Image source: India Today

Q. What was the major reason behind this rapid rise in the last few years?

The domination of computers and online channels has slowly shifted offline learning to the digital domain. Edtech is reaching to the areas in the country where offline education was taking time to reach because of the penetration of internet in India.

Over the past few years, edtech has extended it’s scope past school and college curriculums. The global investors have also staked a lot of money in edtech companies due to increase in demand. Continuous technological intervention is gradually changing the paradigm of learning and development.

The rapid integration of technology in the educational technology sector has made it a promising field to explore. Right now, Artificial Intelligence is a huge vault in the education industry. Both learners and facilitators can benefit from this innovation.

Personalization is also the key to a 21st Century education. It is taking education to the next level. Embracing knowledge is not complete until learners are capable of executing it. 21st century is all about learning how to apply knowledge efficiently in real life. This is where coding comes into the picture of the EdTech sector.

Q. A report of 2019 claimed that about 80% of Indian engineers are unemployable. What do you believe Indian education missing out?

Every year, thousands of engineering students are getting graduated but a very tiny amount of them are trained with the skills that employers need now. India is the IT leader in terms of the number of engineers.

A very low proportion of engineers takes up any projects beyond the curriculum and do internships. The current academic curriculum in school and colleges covers the theoretical aspect and can only be considered a starting point.

Engineers from the foundation of a dynamic multi-billion dollar innovative market and hence need to be adept at global best practices. However, to gain practical knowledge, it is imperative that students work on the live project.

Equal emphasis needs to be given to tech skills, soft skills, and skills that enable working with distributed teams. Upskilling is a constant in a field like engineering, being part of a live community is another great way to learn and re-share skills in real-time.

Q. With organizations becoming more conscious towards optimizing the team number, and the evolution of technology at its helm, how do the relevance of EdTech platforms become all more important in the current setup?

The future of education technology is all about the cloud and, anywhere access, learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. Edtech should be seen as an inseparable thread woven throughout the processes of teaching and continuous learning.

Edtech platform aims to cut the workload, foster efficiencies, removes the barrier to education and ultimately drives improvements in educational outcomes. Technology is helping in creating a world-class education and training for everyone no matter whatever their background is.

The use of technology in education is highly variable and is rarely fully integrated. Other sectors have seen positive benefits that widespread the use of technology can bring including simplifying and automating tasks and processes, improving collaboration and access to information, and remodelling data collection and analysis.

The health sector, for example, is using a broad range of technology to help improve services and increase efficiency. We as an ed-tech company is using technology for so many our day to day things like filing taxes, staying connected with our hiring partners and mentors, etc.

Q. To what extent did being a dropout yourself shaped your decision to work towards the betterment of the education industry?

I ended up spending the next two years after dropping off college bankrupt, living out of a co-working space - Innov8 and tried so many ideas. I launched more than a dozen products — but one after another they all failed.

Then I met Andrew. Andrew was working late at the co-working space. I was curious about him so I started a conversation. He told stories about working alongside some of the most brilliant people in the world. He told me about software engineering in the US. I felt this emotion arise in me that was akin to an insane sense of urgency.

I convinced him to do a test project with a US client and an Indian engineering team. I needed this startup project to work. I had a better grasp in knowledge about what a startup takes to really work in terms of recognition of better ideas, having diverse help, putting in time, effort and money.

We’d hire the best engineer’s in India. They’d start out writing code that was simply impeccable by Silicon Valley standards. Andrew and I quickly realized how good our engineers were. They were fluent in English, had computer science degrees and worked harder than most of Andrew’s peers in Silicon Valley.

This is how we ended up working as an ed-tech company redefining the career of Indian software engineers.

After contrasting the lives of engineers in India vs engineers in Silicon Valley, I have realized that Indian engineers are not given the opportunity to realize their true potential.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. India is an IT leader in terms of the number of engineers. I believe if we can get every engineer to match the quality of engineers in Silicon Valley, we can become global leaders.

Q. Is there any specific reason why Pesto works mainly towards enrolling the working corporates and not the freshers or final year students?  

We are not an educational institution. We train engineers who already know to code and have experience in coding. It’s not that we don’t enrol people who are freshers, we have multiple freshers.

The idea behind Pesto is that we work with people who already know to code. We at Pesto focus more upon enhancing the existing skills of an individual. We polish and upskill coders, and bridges the gap between Silicon Valley employers and Indian engineers. So there are no criteria of not hiring freshers, there have been Pesto grads who were freshers.

There are also some Pesto grads who were college drop-outs, but the majority of Pesto grads were working professionally and have 1-2 years of industrial experience before joining Pesto.

Q. Which trends dominated the EdTech industry in the 2010s?

A decade ago, Edtech industry did not even exist. The educational landscape of India has been transformed by a series of developments in new-age pedagogies and their popularity is expected to continue in the coming years.

The increased mobile penetration in the country, especially in rural areas, was a major breakthrough for the development of this industry.

Stronger implementation of AI and ML have helped bring out truly adaptive and personalized platforms addressing real learning needs. The main purpose of these assistive technologies is to provide a more accessible and on-demand experience for students that need immediate assistance with certain issues. Tech tools and software have also allowed to streamline the educational experience, improve accessibility and offer new resources to students.

Q. Which new trends are expected to dominate the Edtech industry this decade?

AI is likely to dominate a lot of headlines in the coming year. Future education has got many useful implementations of AI. AI can also help performance evaluation of the student or group of students.

The pace of change in technology continues to accelerate. There is now a need for continuous learning that will re-skill or up-skill the students for the challenges of tomorrow.

Blockchain is another trend that will dominate the edtech industry in coming time. Digital storage of academics information and accessibility to it for authenticated users would accelerate its implementation with the help of blockchain technology.

The scope of online learning is not only limited to school and competitive exams but has gone beyond these boundaries.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge an Ed-tech startup faces in India? And, what did you too faced?

The current academic curriculum in school and colleges covers the theoretical aspect and can only be considered a starting point. Engineers from the foundation of a dynamic multi-billion dollar innovative market and hence need to be adept at global best practices.

However, to gain practical knowledge, it is imperative that students work on live projects. Equal emphasis needs to be given to tech skills, soft skills, and skills that enable working with distributed teams. Upskilling is a constant in a field like engineering, being part of a live community is another great way to learn and re-share skills in real-time.

There are 5 million software engineers in India. Their average salaries are between $6,600 (entry-level) and $11,400 (senior-level) per year. We have proven that if we find the hardest working software engineers in India and invest in them with world-class, intensive training, they can be effective remote team members in US companies, earning more money than they ever thought possible. Being able to give up to a 20x increase in economic opportunity to millions of people is pretty cool.

After contrasting the lives of engineers in India vs engineers in Silicon Valley, I have realized that Indian engineers are not given the opportunity to realize their true potential.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. India is an IT leader in terms of the number of engineers. I believe if we can get every engineer to match the quality of engineers in Silicon Valley, we can become global leaders. If India wants to unlock its full potential, we need to empower our engineers with more opportunity.

We need to value their intellectualism. We need to invest in making each engineer the best version of themselves, instead of focusing those resources on simply cranking out another engineer.

Q. Looking back at the decision of dropping out, will you change it if given a chance. Why? Why not?

Moving forward with Pesto, we decided we are going to give up the massive margins on our consulting business and focus on our training program full time. We have developed an India specific curriculum that not only teaches software development but focuses on bridging cultural gaps and being an effective remote employee.

Most people can’t believe that the only real thing standing between them and a 20x increase in economic potential is a short, albeit gruelling, period of education and an introduction to someone working on the other side of the world.

At Pesto, we are creating a world where access to education and remote work gives everyone equal access to opportunity, regardless of where they were born so that’s why I would never look back at the decision of dropping out.

I really enjoy what I am doing right now and would love to continue upskilling Indian engineers and provide them with global opportunities. We are on a mission to make Indian engineers rich.

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